Manly Sea Eagles legend Graham Eadie
Manly Sea Eagles legend Graham Eadie

Time for Sea Eagles to deliver

!DON'T bother asking Graham "Wombat" Eadie who is going to win Sunday's NRL grand final? The Sea Eagle legend is as excited as a seagull over a discarded chip ahead of the big game between Manly and Melbourne and firmly believes it's time for his former club to deliver. Having won four premierships during his distinguished playing career with the maroon and whites Eadie can't wait for Sunday's showdown. "The hype on the North Shore in Sydney would be incredible and despite people saying Manly fans aren't passionate I bet there will be plenty at the Telstra Stadium to cheer the boys on," said Eadie who played 237 first grade games for the Sea Eagles. "From my experiences, people start coming out the closets to proclaim their support of Manly when it looks like the club can make the grand final and I suspect there will be a lot of people in Sydney who will get behind the Sea Eagles rather than have Melbourne take the NRL premiership back to Melbourne." "I don't think the 'silver tails' thing has as much bearing these days as it once did before the competition expanded interstate though I'm sure there are still a few people who don't care who they back as long as it isn't Manly." Despite his support for the Sea Eagles Eadie said players from both sides would be feeling the pressure in the lead-up to the game. However, he tipped Manly would benefit from the experience of coach Des Hasler.

"In my day, we trained Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and media at our training sessions which was all a bit new for us," Eadie said. "Players in the modern era must be used the media spotlight on them but even so this week would be very demanding, particularly having to fulfil sponsor commitments." With 237 first grade games and four premierships for Manly to his name, Eadie still gets excited about the prospect of his club claiming another. Hasler was one of Manly's best players during the 1980s and early 1990s, helping the Sea Eagles to premiership success in 1996. "His experience and that of (Steve) Menzies would be a big benefit for the younger guys but having said that, Melbourne were there last year and will be out to make amends for that loss," Eadie said. "Keeping the players' emotions and nerves in check will be vital prior to the game and from experience, I couldn't wait for the game to start." "I just wanted to get my hands on the ball or get involved as soon as I could to settle myself down." and was always glad if the opposition kicked off to us because usually I was the first person to take the ball. "If we had to kick off, that was OK as well because I would be the person to do it." While nerves are sure to play a part on Sunday, Eadie said the key to victory would be doing the simple things well and adhering to the game plan. "Defence is a big factor and I'm sure that both coaches have laid out a fairly simple game plan they want their players to follow," he said. "If you can match your opponents in defence and have a little luck in attack, especially forcing an error, you usually find it can be the key to victory. "For the players, it's important not to get ahead of yourself in the match and just concentrate on your job." As for Eadie's plans on Sunday? "I'll be watching the game on a big screen somewhere, proudly wearing my Manly shirt with 'Wombat' written across it ... go the Sea Eagles."



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